Ceremony honoring Camp Humphreys' namesake is canceled
November 13, 2004
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army has canceled plans for a Saturday ceremony to honor the memory of the Army helicopter pilot for whom Camp Humphreys is named.
Base officials said they canceled the ceremony, in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Kent Humphreys, because his 74-year-old widow, Betty Nance Humphreys of Fayetteville, N.C., was ill and unable to fly to South Korea.
“Everybody is just wishing her a speedy recovery, of course,” Steve Davis, a Camp Humphreys spokesman, said Wednesday afternoon.
Davis said he did not know the nature of Mrs. Humphreys’ illness. Besides attending the Saturday ceremony, she and her husband’s nephew were to have taken part in a series of special events as guests of the Army in South Korea.
The nephew, Robert Humphreys, of Laurel, Md., and his wife arrived in South Korea on Tuesday night as scheduled.
“All the other events that were scheduled will be taking place,” said Davis, “with the exception of the actual ceremony.”
“They were to be joined by her,” said Davis, referring to Betty Humphreys. “She was flying from another location but she didn’t arrive, and they found out that she was ill,” he said.
At the time of his death 43 years ago, Benjamin Humphreys was assigned to the 6th Transportation Company (Light Helicopter) at what was then called Sub-post K-6. Humphreys died Oct. 13, 1961, when his H-21 Shawnee helicopter developed mechanical trouble and crashed, killing him and the seven soldiers he was transporting.
The Army renamed the airfield Camp Humphreys in 1962.
With the 8th U.S. Army band scheduled for the ceremony, base officials had planned to “re-dedicate” the post in Humphreys’ honor at a 4 p.m. retreat ceremony Saturday outside the Area III Support Activity headquarters.
Events the nephew and his wife were to participate in included a tour of the Joint Security Area at Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, which the couple made Wednesday.
Other scheduled events included a breakfast hosted by the Warrant Officers Association at Camp Humphreys, various aviation-related exhibits and demonstrations and a trip Friday to South Korea’s national war museum in Seoul.
Saturday’s ceremony had been expected to put new attention on Benjamin Humphreys himself, and also on the pioneering role H-21 pilots like Humphreys played in Army helicopter aviation.
“I was here 10 years ago as a brand new young aviator,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ron Thomas, senior instructor pilot with 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, said Tuesday. “I can tell you that 10 years ago I had no idea where the name ‘Camp Humphreys’ came from.”
“They were leading their field,” Thomas said. “He and all those warrant officers who flew with him, they were the leading edge at that time.”
Thomas and fellow pilots can identify with Humphreys and those of his era. “When we go back and look at guys like Mr. Humphreys … it’s a direct correlation.”
The Army plans to expand Camp Humphreys into a key hub for the U.S. military in South Korea, and has millions of dollars in construction projects under way or planned.